The Union Path Podcast
"Listening to and Healing Inner Turmoil - Turning Inner Battles into Opportunities for Personal Enlightenment"
We all walk around with turmoil. We all walk around with an inner conflict of some sort. It's inescapable, it's part of the human experience. There's always something inside, something churning, something grinding, something asking to be dealt with, something asking for our attention. In this, humans, one of the most amazing abilities that we have is the ability to ignore. Some of us can get really really good at ignoring. Some of us can get really really good at not paying attention intentionally to whatever we don't want to pay attention to, to whatever we don't want to acknowledge, we don't want to honor, we don't want to allow. But, of course, when we have inner turmoil, when we're walking around with it, it leaks into our life in all sorts of different ways. It influences our life in all sorts of different ways. So it's worth doing something about, it's worth facing, it's worth healing, it's worth listening to because even if we're attempting to ignore it, even if we've become unconscious of it, it's still having an effect, it's still dooming something, it's still affecting our life, it's still influencing our life and this is worthwhile to do something about.
And the ways that that might be affecting or influencing our life can vary person to person. Perhaps we have undoubt within our turmoil and that makes us very angry, very prone to rage. Perhaps we have undoubt within our turmoil and that makes us prone to depression, despair, hopelessness. We're just kind of a sense of anodonia. Nothing really matters, what's the point? Nothing really seems worth the effort. So we start to tune into ourselves. When we start any sort of mindfulness practice, this inner turmoil can be one of the first things we come across. I believe this is one of the things that makes something like a meditation practice hard for some people, because we remove all of the distraction, all of the compensatory behaviors, all of the avoidant behaviors and just have to sit with ourselves.
And then there it is, that turmoil, that conflict. It makes the self known, it takes the spotlight, it becomes front and center and it's just too uncomfortable to deal with. We avoid it for a reason, we suppress it for a reason. We don't want to deal with it. And thus, if we're embarking on any sort of practice that forces us to confront it, we're probably not going to do that very long. We're probably not going to make that choice over and over and over again. Ultimately, we're really not going to do something for that long that we don't want to do, no matter how strong our willpower is, will is finite. And if we're running on willpower, if we're running on the sheer inner force that we generate in order to overcome resistance towards something that will eventually fail and we'll usually fail in very subtle ways of where we'll find ourselves distracted and find ourselves within easy excuse to not do whatever we were doing and we'll think, oh, I'll get back to it, I'll do it tomorrow. But then tomorrow another excuse, another distraction, another bit of avoidance. Then on and on it goes.
But instead of using willpower, instead of forcing ourselves to do something, what if we reframe the whole idea of inner conflict or inner turmoil as something that needs attention, something that's asking for our attention, as a crucial bit of nurturing and nutrition that we can give ourselves? Think about this inner conflict or inner turmoil kind of as a low level wound. It's not asking to take over our life, it's not asking to dominate us. It just is asking for a bit of attention, a bit of healing. Perhaps it has something important and necessary to tell us and that by ignoring it, by suppressing it, by avoiding it, we're actually, in our own way, we're sabotaging ourselves, we're undermining ourselves because we're not seizing the value that is embedded in this conflict, in this turmoil, the very least we're not seizing the opportunity for belief in freedom by reconciling and rectifying the inner turmoil within us. And so, as we're walking down any sort of spiritual path, any sort of awareness or consciousness path, one of the best things we can do is become aware of conflict, become aware of turmoil, become more embodied, because we're walking through our life, paying attention to how things actually feel, because that's really how turmoil and conflict really manifests itself. It's like sure we can see it in our minds of constant rumination or internal arguments that we're having with people with perhaps we haven't spoken to for decades.
Yet the conversation still endures within us. We're still trying to win, we're still trying to be right, we're still trying to change this person in whatever way we believe they need to change. But that isn't really doing us any favors and they're not aware of it at all. So what are we really doing? We're keeping this turmoil alive, we're feeding it. Sometimes we're growing it. So it's not always ignoring. That's the problem. Sometimes it's our own grasping, our own clenching. That's the problem. Sometimes, all it really takes is for us to let go, for us to decide kind of once and for all. I'm done with this. I'm going to forgive this person. I'm going to forgive myself. I'm going to stop arguing. I'm going to stop arguing. I'm going to stop trying to win. I'm going to stop trying to be right. I'm going to surrender, not out of defeat but out of liberation, out of relief. I'm going to take this yoke off my neck and finally set it down and enjoy the freedom, enjoy that weight no longer holding me down.
Or sometimes we actually need to explore after inner conflict, explore after our pain, explore after our turmoil, get curious about it, invite it up, invite it in, try to look at it, because obviously, ignoring is the opposite of consciousness. I've said this before, but I think it's really interesting and really useful of thinking about how the root of ignorance is ignore. And as we become more conscious, as we become more mindful, these inner conflicts, this inner turmoil, becomes harder to ignore, harder to deny. And that's the benefit of a more conscious, more mindful life is that it's actually rooted in reality. It's actually real. We've popped the bubbles on our own fantasies, on our own manufactured realities, and we're dealing with what's real. We're living what's real, which gives us an incredible amount of power, because if we're living in a fantasy world, if we're living a delusional life, we can't really do a lot about real life because we don't agree about the facts, we're not really dealing in reality, so we can't really affect reality that much. But as soon as we really start to connect with the truth, as soon as we really start to live what's real, now we can get somewhere. Now we can actually do something because we're dealing with what's actually real.
Though we've all experienced this and we've had a major conflict or a major problem in our life, the turning point would actually create it. The ultimate change or triumph or victory was actually facing reality, actually getting real about what was going on, actually being real about what was going on and what was happening. That, as long as we diluted ourselves with fantasy, we can never really do anything about. Whatever we were struggling against, whatever our problems were. It took getting down to and connecting and honoring and acknowledging the real to actually make progress, to actually get anywhere, because that's a solid bedrock, that's a solid foundation to operate from. As long as we're operating from the artificial, from the contrived, from the made up, from the make believe, from the fantasy, from the wish of how things were. All those things are only ideas, those things don't have natural grounding, there's no solidness to them, they're wayless, they lack density. We can never really get a very firm hold and we can never really push off very strongly, unless we're dealing with reality and dealing with what's real.
And as we continue our spiritual journey and we become more and more in touch with what's real, what's true, what reality actually is, through our own experience, through our own endeavoring after it, through our own exploring after it, through our own acknowledging of awareness of what we observe, of what we know, what is demonstrably true in our life. And when we do this and we discover in our turmoil, it's important to do something about that. It's important to do something with that information, with that sensation, with that feeling. And our minds might object, our minds might try to overrule these feelings of turmoil inside of us that we shouldn't feel this or shouldn't feel that, try to invalidate what we feel. This is part of becoming more embodied, this is part of becoming a more full and whole person is being able to think and feel and be able to integrate the two, have the two, support and feed each other, rather than the two being conflict, so we can really improve our life. We can really liberate ourselves tremendously by listening to and honoring and doing something about our own inner turmoil, our own inner conflict.
And these solutions may not be obvious at first, especially if we've been avoiding something for a long time. We may have gotten really, really good at shutting off that aspect of ourselves and so when we start to try to identify with and feel that part of ourselves again, things could be a little clumsy, can be a little blurry, can be a little fuzzy. But we can keep going, we can keep listening, we can keep trying, we can exercise this atrophied aspect of ourselves. We can bring this part of ourselves back to life. We can reintegrate it into our expression, into our daily living of our life. At least it's been my experience.
And whenever I have some sort of inner turmoil, there's something that is important for me to listen to, to pay attention to, there's something important for me to do. And also, when I become aware of that inner turmoil just happens to be the perfect time to do something, to at least start to at least try. But the time for ignoring and suppressing is over. The time for listening and allowing and honoring in healing has arrived. And because these things are feelings, it may not be inherently obvious what they're about.
Oftentimes we have to play with different thoughts or different ideas and find the resonance, find the one that matches, kind of find the ding of what it actually is. That if we have this inner turmoil, that we know how it feels, we have no idea what causes it and we have to try to find a match. Is this due to some situation in my life? Is this due to some relationship, some circumstance? Is this something in my family? Is this something in my job? Is this something in my life? Achievement? Is this something in my identity? Is this something about how I'm being? What am I missing? What am I hiding? What am I unconscious of? What do I need to become aware of? And we'll know that resonance, we'll know that bullseye when we come across it. Sometimes it's really helpful to talk with another person about this. Of course this needs to be a safe person that's not going to try to talk us out of what we're feeling or try to talk us into their ideas and opinions about what we should do.
But sometimes, just kind of talking through this, we can get to that bullseye when, at the very least, we can understand something more because we can get to the root. We can get to the feeling sense of what's happening and we can look for the aspects of our life that generate or support or perpetuate a similar feeling sense. We can start to create matches, we can start to create correlation, which will lead us to the identification and the ultimate healing of whatever this turmoil is Like. For example, if we have an inner turmoil within us and we find that when we spend time with a particular person that feels the same or seems to light up that turmoil even more like, let's say, we can feel kind of a knot, kind of a twisting tight sensation around our stomach or solar plexus, and then we spend time with a particular person that creates that exact feeling. Or even thinking about spending time with that person creates that exact feeling. Or when we walk away from spending time with that person, that is the feeling we're left with. That's useful information.
But sometimes that inner turmoil isn't so much about a presence in our life, it's about an absence. It's some sort of malnourishment in our life, something we're not getting, that we need, something we don't have, that we deeply want. And we can use our intuition, we can use our own curiosity, we can use our own attention to figure out what this is, to answer these questions, because it comes really fraught to only try to figure out what our inner turmoil is, as filtered or brokered through someone else. If someone else tells us what our problems are, if someone else tells us what we need, that sure, sometimes this is going to be helpful because we can look for that resonance. But ultimately we're the ones that have to know, we're the ones that have to figure it out. We're the ones that have to decide and declare and claim what we actually need, what the source of this conflict or turmoil is, and then what the course of action is Heal it, resolve it, to ameliorate it. Even though other people's advice, ideas, experience, assistance can be really helpful, ultimately we're the ones that have to know what we need, that have to know what we need to do, that have to ultimately do whatever it is we need to do, that have to ultimately live the life that's ours. And when we come across this in our turmoil and it is from a bit of malnourishment, that's really useful information. But it's also really easy information to ignore, because oftentimes this malnourishment exists for a reason Just to feed this aspect of ourselves would be in some way inconvenient, incongruent with some idea about ourselves, with some idea about what's possible for us or reasonable. We'd have to defy expectations, either our own or others.
There's one very small example. As I'm recording this, it's the end of January. It's kind of the peak of the winter season, when I walk around with an inner turmoil every day. It is a deep, aching hunger for sunshine and warmth. I live in a northern climate and this time of year can be pretty miserable. And even though I'm aware of this turmoil, it doesn't mean I need to blow up my life and move as far south as possible immediately, but it also doesn't mean that I need to ignore this as a core need. I can do a lot of things to make myself as comfortable in the meantime, but that need, that hunger, that ache, still persists, and so I listen to it, I honor it, I validate it. It doesn't mean I necessarily have to do anything, but it does mean that at the very least I'm aware of it and I can lean in the direction of having that need filled.
And these sorts of unmet needs can manifest themselves in a myriad of ways. Every person has a unique set of needs and every person has a unique means of having those needs met. This is always a personal issue. This always requires a personalized approach, which is why we ourselves are the best ones to solve it. And we can start by listening, we can start by acknowledging.
We can start by acknowledging, we can start by feeling, we can start the healing process simply through our own attention, through our own awareness, because we can't do anything about what we're not aware of, and so just the awareness alone is an opportunity. It may not feel that way, it may feel like an unwanted burden. If we're aware of it, it's our. We have the capacity, we have the capability to do something about it. The timing of our awareness is not an accident.
So we can listen, we can honor, we can give ourselves some attention, some awareness, and do what we can to heal, to resolve deliberate, because once we do all of those downstream effects, all of those unintended consequences of us walking around with this turmoil, that rage, that fury, that anger, that impatience, that intolerance or that despair, that depression, that hopelessness, we can allow that to fade away, to heal.
We can heal that wound and behold again, be complete again, be full again. We can use that fullness, that completeness, to change the ground state of our life, to change the way we feel most of the time, to change the place that we approach our life from that all of our life experience is based on and is built upon by getting down to the fundamental, getting down to the base, getting down to the root, and then building up from there, driving to heal, striving to resolve, striving to be free from inner turmoil and conflict, to be the whole, complete person, to live the full, complete life that we want.